1098 Items

Analysis & Opinions - Hoover Institution Press

China Brokers Diplomacy Between Iran and Saudi Arabia: Implications for the US Role in the Middle East

| Mar. 23, 2023

For over a decade, American officials have been touting the wisdom of a strategic “pivot” away from the Middle East in order to face the threat of a rising China. During that same period, Beijing has identified the Middle East as a primary arena for great power competition with the United States. 

People inspect the wreckage of buildings that were damaged by Saudi-led coalition airstrikes, in Sanaa, Yemen, Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2022.

AP Photo/Hani Mohammed

Analysis & Opinions - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Significance of the Iran-Saudi Arabia Agreement Brokered by China

Belfer Center experts on the U.S.-China relationship and Middle East issues shared thoughts on the significance of the unexpected Iran-Saudi Arabia agreement brokered by China. 

Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) Nayef Falah Al-Hajraf during a press conference during the 41st Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) meeting being held in Al Ula, Saudi Arabia, Tuesday, Jan. 5, 2021.

AP Photo/Amr Nabil

Paper - Middle East Initiative, Belfer Center

From #Hashtags to Legislation

  • Oussama Belmejdoub
  • Bilal Diab
  • Samira Kalla
  • Ha Nguyen
  • Abdulla Saif
  • Ivan Yotzov
| February 2023

Ownership of reforms by citizens is often presented as important for success. This paper explores media engagement and support for economic reforms in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries using text analysis techniques on publicly available sources. Results show that while reform efforts have intensified in recent years in the GCC, these efforts tend to focus on stronger rather than weaker policy areas, potentially limiting the growth-enhancing effect of reforms. Social media analysis using Twitter shows that the population’s support for reforms has been declining. The analysis of traditional
news media points to more engagement by international than by local media. However, sentiment from international media is less positive about economic reforms in the GCC. Sentiment in international media and social media matters, as evidenced by its positive and strong correlation with FDI inflows into the GCC.

Amman, March 2020

AP Photo/Raad Adayleh


Economic and Social Impacts of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Middle East and North Africa

Between October 2020 and May 2021, the Middle East Initiative conducted a series of nationally representative surveys to measure the economic, social, and public health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.1 Designed and supervised by Tarek Masoud, Faculty Director of the Middle East Initiative, and Yuree Noh, Research Fellow, the surveys collected responses from 8,500 residents of seven countries in the region—Algeria, Egypt, Kuwait, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates. Our goal is to provide the data and insights needed to develop effective policy responses to current and future public health crises.

This report summarizes our findings on how COVID-19 has disrupted employment, mental health, food security, education, and childcare in the region during its first year. We also show that the consequences of the pandemic were felt most acutely by some of the region’s most vulnerable populations: the poor, women, youth, and children.


Democracy in Hard Places

| Aug. 05, 2022
  • Includes chapters written by a distinguished cast of experts on democracy and comparative political regimes
  • Presents new case studies of democratic survival in the developing world
  • Offers theoretically incisive debates about what enables democracy to survive under difficult conditions
  • Provides new interpretations of the recent political histories of key "Third Wave" democracies

Report - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

Time to Reboot: A Blueprint for the Palestinian Tech Sector

Despite Israeli occupation and systemic governance challenges, the Palestinian economy faces a unique opportunity to build a thriving technology ecosystem. The current model of global philanthropy-driven tech development in the West Bank, however, is not working. Without a reboot, no progress is likely to be made. As early as 2012, a Cisco report proclaimed that, “Palestine is on the brink of becoming the next high tech global hotspot.” A decade later, this ambitious pronouncement remains unfulfilled. This paper outlines how international actors such as the US State Department can lead an effort, together with other key governmental and international institutions, to accelerate growth in the Palestinian tech sector. Long-term, the proposed model is intended not only to serve the Palestinian economy, but also to strengthen civil society, build state capacity, and facilitate regional collaboration.

Photo of student exploring a xxxxxx

Photo by Alison Hillegeist

- Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

In-Person Insights Into the Middle East

| Spring 2022

In March, a 13-member delegation of Harvard students traveled to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to participate in a Harvard Kennedy School experiential field course on “Leadership and Social Transformation in the Arab World.”

Conceived and designed by Tarek Masoud, Ford Foundation Professor of Democracy and Governance and faculty director of the Middle East Initiative (MEI), the original model was a comparative, two-week January-term course visiting several Middle Eastern countries. However, due to the surge in COVID-19 cases in late 2021, Masoud and his co-instructor, MEI Senior Fellow Sultan Al-Qassemi, reshaped the course into a condensed module—held March 11-20, 2022—focused on the UAE.